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On trend: The Bomber Jacket

While recently watching some video clips of the shows from New York and Milan fashion weeks, I was struck by how many designers were using bomber jackets in their collections. For example, Gucci presented bomber jackets with interesting and eye-catching designs. This got me to thinking about the history of the bomber jacket and why it is prevalent in many designers collections. What are designers attempting to convey with this symbol of expression?

The bomber jacket, or bombadier jacket, came into existence around the early 1900s during World War I. The silhouette is timeless and reminds us of a long ago era. Usually designed in leather with a high collar, fitted waist and wrist, zipper front and flap pockets; bomber jackets were worn by military pilots to keep them warm since cockpits at the time weren't enclosed. However, the design as we know it today became prevalent after World War II and was adopted by civilians in the 1950s.

The 1950s has been described as a time of restlessness, the post war world was changing fast and people were seeking ways to adapt and cope with the angst associated with change. Out of the that angst many youths began to question the established societal norms and push the boundaries. Part of that introspection involved a rebellion to parents and the sameness of daily life. While many people joined the military out of a sense of duty, others chose to be nonconformists. This is where we begin to see the entrance of more non-conventional choices emerging in fashion. The bomber jacket, along with other military styles, were a way to subvert conventions and rebel against the culture. This subversion gave way to the intersection of function and fashion.